Cruises to Martinique

406 Reviews
Les Anses-d'Arlet, Martinique

About Cruising to Martinique

Martinique is one of four French overseas territories in the Caribbean. (The others are St. Martin, Guadeloupe and St. Barts; collectively, they're known as the French West Indies.) French is the first language, and most locals do not speak fluent English; you'll find that signs and menus generally aren't meant to accommodate anyone who isn't French. This can make a visit challenging, especially in the quick time of a day's call, but it's also part of what makes this island so intriguing. Travelers can find a cruise to France that calls on the Martinique port to ensure they get to experience this unique region on their next cruise.

Martinique is one of the few islands that still grows sugarcane and bananas in the rolling fields of its central section, and it has an enormously respected reputation for producing unique and refined rums. Head north to Mont Pelee to experience its rainforest or see the ruins at Saint-Pierre, which are remnants of a volcanic eruption in 1902. Beaches range from the St. Tropez-style of those at the resort town of Pointe du Bout to the naturist-friendly Pointe des Salines and Sainte-Anne, on the south side of the island.

Martinique's New World history began in 1502, when Christopher Columbus landed on the island. The French claimed the island in 1635; for 180 years, ownership bounced between France and Britain, before the former took hold for good in 1815. Martinique became a region of France in 1974.

Napoleon's Empress Josephine, born on the island in 1763, is Martinique's most famous native. She is both revered for her fame and reviled for her part in propagating the slave trade. La Pagerie is a small museum set at her birthplace and shows her early life on the island; in Fort-de-France you can also see a statue of Josephine that was beheaded and splashed with red paint in 1991 by angry locals who were protesting her pro-slavery stance.

Martinique is a sprawling island, and it's simply too vast to cover everything in a day. Narrow down your choices (beach day at Pointe du Bout for one visit, a trip to the rainforest and Saint-Pierre on another visit, etc.). Touring Fort-de-France -- and indulging in one of those great three-hour French lunches -- can consume a day as well, thanks to numerous interesting architectural sites, gorgeous La Savane park and shopping that ranges from pricy French-style boutiques to open-air markets.

--Updated by Ashley Kosciolek, Editor, and Susan Moynihan, Cruise Critic contributor

  • More about Martinique

  • Why Cruise to Martinique?

  • Martinique Cruise Port Facilities?

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Emerald Princess
Emerald Princess (Photo: Princess Cruises)

10 Night
Caribbean - Southern Cruise

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Emerald Princess
Emerald Princess (Photo: Princess Cruises)

10 Night
Caribbean - Southern Cruise

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Zuiderdam
Zuiderdam

21 Night
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Zuiderdam
Zuiderdam

14 Night
Southern Caribbean

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MSC Cruises

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25 Night
Southern Caribbean / Eastern Caribbean Wayfarer

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7 Night
Caribbean - Eastern Cruise

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Southern Caribbean Cruise

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10 Night
Caribbean - Southern Cruise

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Caribbean - Southern Cruise

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Southern Caribbean

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Yachtsman's Caribbean

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Autumn Atlantic Migration

9 Reviews
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More about Martinique

Why Cruise to Martinique?

Pros:

An upscale beach-lover's paradise

Cons:

French is the primary language, so cruisers might find themselves less able to communicate

Bottom Line:

This French island offers a Caribbean vibe that's ideal for beach time and water sports

Martinique Cruise Port Facilities?

Both terminals offer restroom facilities and easy access to taxis. Most ships dock at the long pier terminal at Point Simone, located in downtown Fort-de-France. Simply walk off the pier and you'll have easy access to taxis, restaurants and shopping. A cruise village is set up on the waterfront on port days, with tented vendors selling everything from T-shirts and sarongs to local rum. Dedicated tourism representatives (easily identifiable by their red vests) are on hand to answer questions and offer directions, and the adjacent ferries can take cruisers to points more easily reached by sea than land.

Other ships dock at La Tourelles, the island's traditional cruise port, which is a 15-minute walk from downtown. It offers two duty-free shops and Wi-Fi, but otherwise there's not much going on in the immediate port area. Follow the walking path to reach the waterfront of Fort-de-France, or hire one of the plentiful taxis for other points.

Smaller ships may skip the larger cruise ports and anchor on a less-visited part of the island. Located on the southern tip of the island, La Marina Du Marin is the largest anchorage south of the Dominican Republic, and very popular for yacht charters and private boaters. This modern, chic facility is home to a multi-level shopping area with shops, restaurants, a wine bar, grocery store and apothecary, and free Wi-Fi.

Good to Know?

  • Be aware that roads on Martinique -- especially those that weave their way through the mountainous areas -- are astoundingly winding. If you're prone to nausea and plan to venture from the immediate port area, you'd be wise to pack your motion sickness remedy of choice.

    Also note that topless bathing is common on many Martiniquan beaches.

  • Be aware that roads on Martinique -- especially those that weave their way through the mountainous areas -- are astoundingly winding. If you're prone to nausea and plan to venture from the immediate port area, you'd be wise to pack your motion sickness remedy of choice.

Also note that topless bathing is common on many Martinican beaches.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Fort-de-France itself is a walkable harbor front city. You can walk to the city from both terminals; just follow street signs pointing to "centre de ville."

By Taxi: Taxis are available at both the cruise terminal and in the city center. Note that public transportation can be tricky, as few drivers speak English and fares are in euros (the official currency of France). But when you opt for taxi service from your terminal, drivers generally are English-speakers, and you can often pay with U.S. currency or a credit card instead of euros.

By Bus: Martinique is launching TCSP express bus service that will run over reserved priority lanes between the pier at Pointe Simon cruise terminal, the Galleria shopping mall and Martinique Aime Cesaire International Airport. Each loop has multiple stops across the island, and bus service will run from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. Buses are equipped for low-mobility passengers, and tickets can be purchased at automatic-ticket booths at stops, and via Mozaik booths in Fort-de-France. Current rates are 1.30 euros per rider, one way.

By Rental Car: Budget has an office at Martinique Aime Cesaire International Airport and another at Trois-Ilets, which is accessible by ferry from Fort-de-France. Be warned that road signage is in French, and roads are narrow and excessively winding.

By Ferry: Martinique has a robust ferry service, which leaves from the docks at Pointe Simon and offers trips to nearby locales, including Trois-Ilets/Pointe du Bout (about a 20-minute ride). Fares are in euros.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Euros are used on Martinique; dollars generally aren't accepted, except by a handful of taxi drivers near the terminal who cater specifically to cruise passengers. You'll find ATMs and an exchange bureau -- Change Caribe -- in Fort-de-France, just a short walk from the Pointe Simon terminal. (It's also walkable from La Tourelles, but it's a bit farther.) It can be difficult to find places to exchange dollars after you've left Fort-de-France, so if you're headed out to explore, secure some euros before you go. Visit www.xe.com for the most up-to-date exchange rates.

Language?

French is the primary language spoken on Martinique. You'll find English-speakers in most major tourist areas, but otherwise, be prepared with a phrasebook.


Martinique Cruise Reviews
Martinique is by and large the most developed of all the islands, but this means it loses its charm a bit. We weren't helped by terrible weather from start to finish, but the tour group made the best of the situationRead More
slclove
Check your itinerary against Carnivale in the Caribbean. If it’s Carnivale - your excursion might get canceled.Read More
40luv
Ship excursion on a catamaran to a beach - very goodRead More
Loge 23
One of the best islands we have been to. What happy to be at this island again.Read More
Wizard 17

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